Jonathan Levitt, a Maine-based travel writer, recently had a piece in the Boston Globe Magazine that showcased Portland's music scene.
In it, he speaks with Bryan Bruchman, a Brooklyn-based promoter and photographer. Bryan moved here in 2008 and started a frequently-consulted music blog, Hilly Town. Though he's moved back to Brooklyn, he still makes frequent trips north to bring Brooklyn-based bands to perform in Portland, or bring Portland-based bands south to perform in New York (I last saw him a couple weeks ago at the amazing What Cheer? Brigade show that he'd organized at a soon-to-be-demolished warehouse on Thompson's Point).
From Levitt's article, here's a quote from Bryan about Portland's supportive music scene:
“Bands like coming to Portland,” says Bruchman. “In big cities there’s usually a big barrier between the bands and the audience. Here it feels warm and comfortable. Plus, the kids in town don’t want to go to some big corporate-sponsored event. They want to go out and see local music. In most places only weirdos like me show up to see the local bands, but in a town like Portland there are hundreds of weirdos.”
What Bryan says about the music scene could apply to a lot of Portland's creative communities. Our city has a lower cost of living that gives creators the freedom to set aside time for their craft without needing to sell out or to worry too much about the rent, and we have eager audiences that support local creators, whether they're performers, designers, or entrepreneurs.
Even though he spends most of his time in Brooklyn these days, Bryan himself continues to support his friends in Portland, by promoting shows that bring local, Portland-based bands south to perform in New York City, and talking them up to a wider audience. Portland's creative community is perfect for incubating new creative talent, but it's also geographically close to bigger audiences in Boston and New York that can launch local artists to national prominence (see, for instance, Maine-based Arborea's recent performance on NPR Music's Tiny Desk series. They're back home to play One Longfellow Square this weekend).